While the runways have been taking more of a co-ed approach in recent seasons, the fragrance industry has been there and done that with their impressive line-up of shareable scents. The ‘90s were, of course, when we saw a massive peak in unisex fragrance, thanks largely to the CK One phenomenon bursting onto the scene in 1994. You could barely walk down the street without catching a whiff of its unmistakable smell, if you weren’t wearing it yourself. It was everywhere. Then, with Comme des Garcons launching its original gender-neutral fragrance that same year, it became a battle of the unisexes, if you will.
Now, moving into more fluid times, when our shopping habits are focused on personal taste rather than the traditional limits of gender, fragrance houses — from artisan to mainstream — are offering up an array of scents that can be worn by whoever, whenever. From minimalist unisex fragrances, such as Escentric Molecules’ Molecule 01 with its single note, to more complex options like Tom Ford’s quintessential Black Orchid, there is something for everyone. And did I mention there is now an entire family of CK One scents to convey a sense of nostalgia?
Here, a list of gender-neutral fragrances that smell insanely good and can be shared, should you be so willing.
If there’s one scent on this list that’s just so insanely evocative, it has to be Molecule 01. Showcasing just a single note, Iso E Super -- which you’ve quite likely smelled in many other fragrances over the years, but never isolated like this -- it works on the idea that the cedar woods scent mixes with your natural smell to create something unique for every wearer. The effect? A lasting impression.
It’s a little-known fact that all Jo Malone fragrances are actually created to be unisex, and while some are more punchy or floral than others, this has just the right blend of fruity zest and earthy notes. Plus, a hit of patchouli and vetiver gives it edge.
Tipping its hat to the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, Commodity Book is an epic fragrance tome, taking inspo from the New York Public Library to capture the warmth of relaxing with a good book. Blending bergamot, spicy cypress, and sandalwood, it’s a fresh yet vigorous scent that’s ideal for those long fall and winter evenings.
Every so often a fragrance launches and becomes an instant icon. Tom Ford’s Black Orchid did just that and remains as relevant today as it did over a decade ago. A sensory revelation bound up in effervescent citrus, blackcurrant, black truffle, dark chocolate, incense, and amber, its hypnotic effect will linger throughout the day and into the evening, ideal for going a little heavier with your fragrance as the temperatures continue to drop.
One of the newer unisex scents on the scene, Velvet Haze is a deep oriental-woodsy fragrance that immerses the wearer in a whirl of coconut, hibiscus, tuberose, and patchouli, mixing light-as-air notes with a rich, earthy base.
Visit a hip hangout or walk through Soho in NYC, and you’re bound to catch the scent of this cult-favorite. One of the few fragrances that seems to have an almost instant appeal, its woodsy, aromatic scent is unmistakable. Spicy, floral notes are grounded by a base that includes Australian sandalwood, papyrus, and cedarwood.
Comme des Garcons has created a world of fragrance that challenges traditional blends with a more artisanal and offbeat effect. With Concrete, the perfumers upend the idea of anything stark and sterile as the name suggests, blending sandalwood, rose, and resin to make a warm and spicy scent. Oh, and the bottle is pretty special, too.
It wouldn’t be a list of unisex fragrances without the OG. With refreshing fruit and citrus notes, giving way to sandalwood, musk, and cedar, it’s a signature scent waiting to be rekindled.